Use an Email List to build a Lookalike Audience on Facebook

Sara PurcellEmail Marketing, How-TosLeave a Comment

Lookalike Audience on Facebook

The ability to use an email list to create a lookalike audience on Facebook is a very valuable marketing feature. But first lets step back and talk about email lists. Most likely you are on more email lists than you know. Whether it be on websites, to receive free e-books, or to follow your favorite band. That box that pops up for you to input your email address sometimes gets you news updates, motivational quotes, or daily horoscopes, but it also adds you to an email list. You also may end up on these lists from being a member, making a purchase, or simply attending an event. Anything you subscribe to, or almost anytime you enter your email address, adds you to someone’s email list.

In definite words however, what is an email list?

In simple terms, an email list is the total amount of subscribers you have, which is synonymous to a “mailing list”, or “subscriber’s’ list”. Even better, an email list is a library of emails you have received. Email addresses gathered primarily for use in marketing by an individual or an organization. It does not have to be clear or obvious marketing and could even be to build a community of followers.

From this answer you’re probably realizing that you either already have an email list, or you’re thinking about how to gather yours. Having an email list is a great starting point, but how to use it comes next and opens up a number of questions. Today we wanted to explain how to use utilize your list with the lookalike audience feature on Facebook.

But first, what is a lookalike audience on Facebook?

Facebook lookalike audience are at this moment, the most effective targeting tool (on Facebook) to find your ideal customer. Most advertising targeting on Facebook utilizes general interests and demographic options.  To use this, you would need a fairly specific list of interests and demographics to utilize or your advertising campaign would be too wide.  Lookalike audiences are different in that it uses the features of your existing list, and targets similar people. This is an advanced targeting option that goes beyond the basic interest and demographic targeting functionality.

Remember, your email list is essentially a source audience which you use to build your look alike audience. What Facebook does is that it takes all the data points of your source audience and use it to find new, similar people, using the set percentage sample you specify, of the population in your chosen country.

Utilizing a List of Emails to Build a Lookalike Audience

This is a step by step guide on how you can utilize your email list to build a lookalike audience on Facebook.  These instructions are to be utilized once you already have an email list prepared.  If you need help obtaining emails, we highly recommend checking out the Octascraper.

  • Step 1: Create a Custom Email Audience on Facebook. From your Facebook Business Manager, navigate to the Adsmanager and then Audiences. Or
    – Select Create a Customer Audience.
    – A pop-up box will appear. Select Customer List.
  • Step 2: Add Email Data. After selecting Customer List, you will have two options to add in your email data (from your email list):
    – Upload your data as a file or copy and paste the data. (Either Choose a file or Copy and Paste the data.)
    – Import it from MailChimp.
  • Step 3: Upload the Email List. The next step for you in creating your custom email audience on Facebook is to upload your email list as a CSV file. After this, you map out the identifiers. The more the identifiers you use, the better match rate you will see. There are 15 identifiers you can use which include email address, phone number, first name, surname, date of birth, year of birth, city, country, etc.
    – For your custom email addresses, you select the identifiers you want to map.
    – A progress bar and how many rows of data were successful uploaded will show after you click Upload & Create.
  • Step 4: Create a Lookalike Audience. – Select the list you just created and under Actions choose “Create Lookalike”. In the box that opens, you will see your customer email audience in the Source field.
    – Choose your target countries – where the majority of your email list comes from. (Note- you must have at least 100 people in the same country.)
    – Choose audience size. We suggest starting with a 1% lookalike audience and scale from there.
    – Finally, click on Create Audience.
Benefit of Having an Email List to Build Out a Lookalike Audience on Facebook

As we can see from the steps above, on utilizing your email list to build a lookalike audience on Facebook, you took your existing customer list (via email list) and used that as the source for your Facebook lookalike audience – cloning them.

This means that you used the already existing data on your email list, alongside adding some target information on Facebook, to create an audience based off what you have on your email list. No need to start from scratch, no need for another round of stress, just a Facebook custom audience using your email list to focus and extend your marketing efforts to on Facebook.

Now that you have created a custom audience using your email list on Facebook, you should also know the benefits of Facebook advertising.

1. Numbers

Facebook is the largest social media network in the world. It has about 1.5 billion members worldwide, and 22 billion ad clicks per year. Big numbers. Huge figures. What this means is that Facebook is providing businesses with the largest advertising opportunity, since search. So definitely, your audience, regardless who or where, is on there somewhere. What you have to do is find them, which brings us to the next point.

2. Facebook's Targeting is Exceptional

You can target anyone you want to – whether by behavior, demographics, interests, age ranges, location, connections, or languages. This makes your marketing extra focused on who you intend to as your target market. The hardest part will be how narrow or wide to make that focus.

3. Cost

In the world of advertising, Facebook Ads are really reasonable. They cost a fraction of what other online marketing channels cost. It is a question of how far your money will go (in terms of numbers and target) and not how much Facebook costs. If you don’t have a lot of cash, it does not matter, at least relative to your capabilities. Set reasonable daily Facebook budgets so you do not exceed what you are able to spend.


Facebook lookalike audiences give us a great platform to scale marketing campaigns quickly and easily.  It’s a simple function, utilizing email lists you already have, that expands your reach to like targets.  We’ve laid out the steps above to get started and would love to hear how it goes for you! 

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Sara Purcell

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